Gerry O’Leary was born December 3, 1924 in Tottenham, Ontario. He grew up on a farm there, one of ten children, doing chores such as milking the cows and spreading manure. When the time for war came, both Gerry and his older brother joined up, and they were on their way overseas in 1944. Gerry joined the artillery, specifically the 45th Battery, and he would be shipped across the Channel on June 19 – D+13. Within two days of his arrival, Gerry experienced the worst of the war, when one of the men on his gun crew was killed. Using their 4.5 or 5.5 inch guns Gerry and his crew would fire on targets to support the advance of the infantry and to cover them, a critical role as the Canadian army advanced through France and the Low Countries, and into Germany itself. Along the way Gerry experienced the misery of the assaults and war, but he also got to witness the exhilaration of the Dutch people during their liberation. Like many young Canadian soldiers, Gerry did volunteer for the Pacific War, but the dropping of the atomic bombs obviated that possibility, and Gerry came home and rejoined civilian life, leaving the military life behind – except for the dreams that returned at night. Gerry O’Leary was interviewed by Crestwood students at the Sunnybrook Veterans’ Wing in June 2023.
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